MicroRNAs and cancer stem cells: therapeutic approaches and future perspectives

J A Leal, M E Lleonart
Cancer Letters 2013 September 10, 338 (1): 174-83
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a sub-population of cancer cells that possess characteristics associated with normal stem cells but with the peculiarity that they are tumourigenic. This property allows them to persist in the tumour population, causing relapse and metastasis by giving rise to new tumours. Accordingly, if the CSCs were eliminated, then the tumour would simply regress due to differentiation and cell death. By selectively targeting CSCs, it may be possible to treat patients with aggressive, non-resectable tumours and prevent the tumour from metastasising. MicroRNAs are involved in all biological processes, and several studies have demonstrated their function in human tumourigenesis. Importantly, microRNAs have been implicated in the regulation of stem cells and CSCs. The most important concept to emerge with regard to CSC therapy is still controversial because a number of signalling pathways unique to normal stem cells may also be operating in CSCs, and these offer new targets for therapy. This article reviews how the modulation of microRNAs may revert tumour proliferation in vivo and in vitro and how this approach could be transferred to the clinic. Although the delivery of therapeutic microRNAs to target cells is a challenge that still needs to be overcome, microRNAs offer the advantage that they are small molecules that can be easily transported by body fluids, which makes them good candidates for cancer therapy.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"